Early detection--key to survival

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The three most commonly diagnosed types of cancer among women in 2010 will be cancers of the breast, lung and bronchus and colorectal, all of which account for 52 percent of estimated cancer cases in women, according to the American Cancer Society. However, breast cancer alone is expected to account for 28 percent of all new cancer cases among women. Screening and detection of early recurrence of breast cancer will be the key to survival among women.

Between 1990–1991 and 2006, death rates for cancer decreased by 12.3 percent among women. Reduction in death rates from breast and colorectal cancers accounted for 60 percent of the decrease  which largely reflected improvements in early detection and/or treatment. Lung cancer in men and breast cancer in women each account for nearly 40 percent of the sex-specific decreases in cancer death rates.

Early detection is crucial in managing recurrent disease in breast cancer patients. A multicenter study published in the European Journal of Radiology found that FDG PET/CT may have a potential role in detecting metastatic or recurrent disease in post-therapy breast cancer patients with rising Ca 15-3 level and negative conventional imaging.

Another study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found a high rate of pathologically confirmed osseous metastases in women with positive FDG PET/CT and negative bone scintigraphy, suggesting that PET/CT may be superior in evaluating women with suspected metastatic breast cancer. 

Both of these studies highlight the significance of FDG PET/CT for surveillance purpose to detect relapse or metastatic disease when conventional imaging methods are inconclusive.

In other stories, the debate continues on U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendations against routine annual mammography screening for women in their 40s. Women are empowered to make the decision whether they want to start screening, said Ned Calonge, MD, USPSTF chair and chief medical officer of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in Denver.

Women, make your decision !

On these topics, or any others, please feel free to contact me.

Manjula Puthenedam, Associate Editor